Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The end of chemo blog entry

I am officially two weeks post-chemo and most of the nasty side effects have started to subside. As I was lying in bed last night, I got to thinking about how different chemo was from what I expected.

Way back when this all started, my surgeon, Dr. George, told me that most of the women he spoke with after finishing treatment, told him that chemotherapy was the worst part. At first I laughed, thinking to myself... "of course you are going to tell me it's not THAT bad, you are about to freaking slice off my breast". However, as of right now, I have to say he was correct. Don't get me wrong... having your breast removed is both physically AND emotionally traumatic, and the recovery is long and painful (remember they removed tissue way up into my underarm), but it was nothing compared to chemo.

In addition, I think the isolation that I've experience over the last 4+ months, has only served to worsen an already bad chemo experience. Not having a job (to occupy the mind) and having no friends living within 2 hours of you, makes life... well, dull and dreary. Especially for someone who likes to travel and keep busy.
The fact that Adam can't come to Canada to work and be with me, makes matters worse. Big thanks goes out to immigration and the Government of Canada for that!
I mean, the jerks make it nearly impossible to get a skilled workers visa, AND won't even give citizens of the U.S.A. a holiday working visa (but will to literally 20 other countries!). What the hell?!

Anyway, on to the point of this blog :)
In order to convey the differences between what I had expected, and what actually happened during chemo treatments, I've made two lists.
Here they are:

What I expected-
-nausea (this was pretty much a given, everyone knows about it)
-hair loss
-lowered immune functioning
-mouth sores
-loss of appetite
-weight fluctuation
-metallic taste in mouth (I only had it once, thank goodness)
-needles
-muscle and joint pain (from taxotere)
-chemo brain (yes, it is real... as much as I didn't want to admit it)

What I did not expect-

-50 self-injections of Neupogen to increase white blood cell proliferation (counteract decreased immune functioning)
-change in appearance (dark circles around eyes, horrible skin)
-bloody noses (only after taxotere treatments)
-runny roses and watering eyes (taxotere)
-heartburn (possibly from chemo or 1 of the many side effect reducing medications)
-painful skin (any sort of tactile stimuli felt like poking a bruise, lasted 1-2 weeks post-chemo)
-rash on hands and face
-tingling in feet
-finger nail sensitivity
-mystery bruising (usually on legs)
-sensitivity to light/sound
-swelling of taste buds resulting in extreme sensitivity
-thick coating on tongue and cheeks (lasting over 1 week post-chemo)
-food tasting awful(from above side effect)
-fatigue (to the point where the 1km car ride uptown resulted in a nap)
-6+ trips to the hospital resulting in 2 hospitalizations and/or more antibiotics
-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, depression, and jealousy.

Now, although not among my prouder moments, I do admit that I had moments of extreme jealousy. Being holed up in a house (so as to avoid infections... or due to a variety of side effects), while other people your age are living their lives, going out with friends and having a wonderful time, can hardly be said to cultivate friendly feelings. As I said, I'm not proud of it, but I definitely had moments where I had a strong dislike for pretty much everyone. So... my apologies. I'm thanking my lucky stars it's over.

On a positive note, here are three good things!
1) I'm heading up to my cottage tomorrow, after my consult with the radiation oncologist.
2)I've also decided that I will be making the trip to D.C. in June :)
3) I took my I.V. out on Monday. Yes, I literally pulled it out myself. After lugging that darn thing around for a week, it is a welcome change.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brrap! Good news, I'm glad its finally come to an end! Fancy the Canadians being so strict on the Yanks eh? Getting their own back for South Park...

Much love xx

Anonymous said...

so happy to hear you're starting to feel better after the hell you went through.

every day is a new day, and every day will be a better day now. i take comfort in that.

love and crap

asia

Anonymous said...

I am so relieved and proud of you lady, I cannot begin to understand what the last six months have been like for you but you have dealt with it amazingly. You are my hero xxx

Hayley

lucky said...

good god, i had no idea about the majority of things you listed...
makes me want to give you the biggest hug in the world, then take you out for beer(s).

xox

Charmine said...

All I can say is that you should always look at the brightest side of life. Now you should live your life after the good fight that you have went through. Don't worry about hair loss or whatsoever. There are many hair loss procedures that can help you deal with it. All I can say is that I'm very happy for you.

maggie.danhakl@healthline.com said...

Hi,

Healthline just designed a virtual guide of the effects of chemotherapy on the body. You can see the infographic here: http://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/effects-on-body

This is valuable med-reviewed information that can help a person understand the side effects they are experiencing from their chemo treatment. I thought this would be of interest to your audience, and I’m writing to see if you would include this as a resource on your page: http://ms-mae.blogspot.com/2009/05/end-of-chemo-blog-entry.html

If you do not believe this would be a good fit for a resource on your site, even sharing this on your social communities would be a great alternative to help get the word out.

Thanks so much for taking the time to review. Please let me know your thoughts and if I can answer any questions for you.

All the best,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
p: 415-281-3124 f: 415-281-3199

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
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